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So I've played a lot more Demeo, enough to see some annoying bugs that get fixed when we rejoin the game, but I'm still bullish on it. Incredibly so. I think the success of the game has been a huge surprise to the team, but their love for old school Dungeons & Dragons horseshit was strong enough to become real. A real thing, you can play with their friends. It's not some obsequious, labored thing - it's not trying to be literal about its inspirations. What it wants do is make you feel like those games did. And they got there. It's startling in its authenticity. Unsettling, even.

They just dropped a Q&A you YouTube that said everything I wanted to hear, basically - crossbuy between the Quest versions and the Rift version is a go, which means you can hook the Quest you might have been playing on up to your PC when that version comes out and play the more detailed version for nothin'. A save feature is currently being developed, too - this is more important when you're just starting out, because games get a lot faster once you know what you're doing, but being able to put a bookmark in a round would be super welcome. The next free expansion ("Realm of the Rat King," whose art shows just how well they understand the tropes they're playing with) has new environments, new enemies, and a new boss, which is a little more elaborate than I expected - that's something like a free doubling of the game's content.

There's other stuff in the video but the main thing is that they seem to get it. I wish them the best, because I want to play this for a long, long time.

(CW)TB out.

Tycho / 4 days ago

VR shit has to be pretty cool in order for Gabriel to endure its extreme effects on his body; the kids have played together more than we have. Medical sacraments prolong his capacity to withstand it, but metaphorically it's like nailing a couple thin boards over a window and it's only a matter of time before whatever is out there gets in. Or, to invert the metaphor, whatever is in there comes out.

We have a comic about Demeo specifically we just wrote for Monday, but we were talking about how we actually use the machines and independently we both adopted the following schema:

1. Tell people we are going to be inside there, the same way we would if we were leaving the house.
2. Lock the door.

I wasn't even conscious of the level of tension I had around using the device specifically related to other people. Or mountain lions, I guess. Mountains Lion? Anyway, I thought it didn't matter to me until I listened to that tiny voice that the rest of my cognitive noise was drowning out: I'm exposed. Generally I'd thought of it as The Price Of Doing Business, but it doesn't have to be, because doors are real. Now I can play my pretend D&D and just… evaporate, without the sense that my skin might be forfeit at any time.

After a disastrous start to last week's race, largely because of the wicked cider from Schilling known as Excelsior Imperial Apple, whose closest analogue is the demon's brew called Johnny Jump Up. It was then that we engaged in a wee spot of time travel. But! Heavy rain at Lap 16 - always the great equalizer - saw Enriqua Lara seize a P2 finish. This put Gabir Motors (a proud member of the Dragon Race Team China family of global motorsports brands) right where we want to be at the start of the season. And, with the factory nearly complete, we've got an unprecedented opportunity to write our own destiny down in the shop where our chief mechanic works late into the night, dreaming of ever more fanciful gearboxes. Show starts at 2pm PDT.

(CW)TB out.

Tycho / 6 days ago

I had read about these mars mushrooms in a couple places, places I thought wouldn't be full of shit, but ended up being full of shit. When I told Michael about my incredible new find, lifting the lid on the little cigar box my grandfather had given me to store treasures, a few seconds from him on Google - the same Google I'd used a couple days before to ascertain consensus - revealed not only that they were rocks but that they'd been revealed as as rocks years before.

I'm not especially interested in space as an actual place for me to go. That's not in my fantasy matrix. I had a phase as a young person where I thought about shit like this but I'm relatively pragmatic where fantasy is involved; after you see the icon of your nation's intrepid, venturesome spirit explode live on television it calibrates you for terrestrial living.

After he told me it wasn't real, I leaned way back in my chair and tried to apportion the pain so that it didn't simply redline my sensorium. I don't want to live on Mars. I don't even want to eat the imaginary mushrooms. It was just nice to live, however briefly, in a place where the potential had not been foreclosed. I am now in transit between that better universe and this one and I would describe it as being drawn and quartered atomically.

Yes; back to this universe where the wicked vizier Gary Whitta holds sway. Yes! To this place where his hanger-on Not That Will Smith wobbles unctuously at his side, grey, cool, and wet, like refrigerated gravy. Well, it would appear that it is once again up to myself and Gabriel, my stalwart and true second, to bring this dimension into line one drive at a time. Join us at 2pm PDT on Twitch, there to bear witness to the Mystical Alignment.

(CW)TB out.

Tycho / 1 week ago

Because he liked Andy Weir's first book The Martian - and because the cover shows a person that appears to be in space - Galabriel purchased Project Hail Mary immediately. He has already developed a robust headcanon that has come to define the product.

I just emerged from a round of a game called Demeo, out for Oculus Quest and SteamVR currently, and even if it's a little young and content-wise it feels close to an Early Access initial drop, they did so much right in this thing.

I play a lot of boardgames digitally, most of them realized through something like Tabletop Simulator, which those in its hallowed cloister call TTS. It's a generalized framework for multiplayer manipulation of a 3D environment, and depending on the mod there are various levels of scripting - and, uh, legality - involved, but being generalized often means that it doesn't feel particularly custom. I certainly don't mean to complain about the UI rigor of my pirated games. That sounds churlish. I must mean to say that when something like Demeo comes along - a co-op dungeon crawler that really feels like I'm standing around a fancy pants, like, Wyrmwood gaming table moving our figs around a bunch of Dwarven Forge shit - the distinction is stark.

Part of that comes from the fact that it is in VR, and I haven't been able to sit around a table like this for a while; that might compound the experience they've delivered somewhat. Eventually it'll be out (with cross-buy) for the regular Rift, and for regular computers, but crossplay already works because if you don't do that for VR you're probably in huge trouble. There's only so many of these perverts (perVRts? Is that anything?) and you can't really play favorites unless somebody is paying you to do that.

Here's how the game works. You choose one of four classes, each with its own custom cards, and you pick up and drop your figurine in the range of movement available to you. You have two action points a round, which you can see on your wrist - it's like a virtual bracelet that also tells you where you're at in initiative, and what's coming next. Between levels, you spend the gold you find laying around on additional cards. That's not new. You know about that. But the tabletop metaphor and its physicality is always grounding the whole thing. When I want to choose a card to use, I just look down at my open palm and they're all there. I hold the card out over the board, and a line goes down to the grid beneath so I know exactly what's gonna happen and where. Then, if it's an attack, I literally - well, figuratively I guess. I literally roll the figurative dice? That's it. I roll the dice as is good and proper and we see what's next. I forget the table and even the game. This is a real thing I'm doing in a place that I am at.

Promises about future content, I mean… I certainly like to see it. Right now it's a three level, randomized dungeon crawl in single or multi, with a boss I've already seen and future content teased. But the platform! The execution! The lovingly rendered basement! This little game has earned time and care. I want a loving bird to sit on it until it is strong enough to live.

(CW)TB out.

How I fell into another GD Hobby.

I can’t explain how I end up falling into these hobbies or why I tend to get sucked in by them. I watched Ford vs. Ferrari on a plane ride and became obsessed with motorsports and eventually sim racing. That was over a year ago now and I still race every week with the Penny Arcade iRacing league. I’ve met so many cool people and had so much fun thanks to sim racing that it is hard for me to imagine the last year without it. It really was just dumb luck that I stumbled into it and my most recent obsession Gunpla is no different. 

Sony said they were going to close the Vita store so I busted out my old system to make sure I had everything on there I wanted. I ended up having a lot of fun with it and got back into a few old games. I asked people to share their favorite Vita games with me on Twitter and since I thought the store was closing I picked up a few games that were highly recommended but I had never heard of. One of them was Mobile Suit Gundam Extreme Vs. Force which I grabbed even though I had absolutely zero experience with Gundam. 

The game was actually really fun. Even as someone who didn’t know a thing about the setting, I was having a good time piloting these big ass robots around. So my next thought was, “maybe I should figure out what Gundam is.” and that is how I ended up watching the original animated series that aired back in the late 70’s. I was hooked from the very first episode. Even 40 years later I was 100% invested in Amuro and the story of White Base. I shotgunned the old episodes while investigating more modern series as well. I was talking about the fact that I was getting into Gundam on a stream one day when someone in chat mentioned that the model kits are built entirely without glue. Now I was no Gundam fan but I am a nerd and I had obviously seen a few of those kits before. I honest to God thought this comment in the chat was a joke. I built airplane models as a kid and they used super glue. The only snap together models I was familiar with were the Snap-Tite kits from Revell which I think we can all agree are a fucking joke. 

After the stream I could not shake the idea that maybe it wasn’t a joke. Did those models really go together without glue? I went to Google and that is how I discovered Gunpla. Pretty soon Noah and I built our first beginner level kit and now I’m hooked. I’ve been using my 1:30 to 3PT stream on Tuesdays to build kits and just like with sim racing I seem to have inspired others to come along for the ride with me. At least this one is less expensive than sim racing! These kits start around $10 and it’s not hard to find really cool ones for around $20.  They come in a variety of levels that determine their overall difficulty size and detail as well as price. I am currently building models from the High Grade category which is just one step up from beginner. Next I could move to Real Grade which are the same size but more intricate. There are also Master Grade kits which are a bit bigger and more detailed. Then you have Perfect Grade which are super articulated and often come with LED lights and other doodads. They also have a Super Deformed grade which look sort of like very detailed POP figures that you build. 

I’ve only tackled the HG kits for now but I plan on moving up the ladder when I feel ready. On tomorrow’s stream I’ll be trying out a different line of models actually called 30 Minute Missions. These are still from Bandai just like the Gundam kits but they are not based on any cartoons. These models are designed to be built fast and customized with different parts you purchase in add on kits. They offer a core line up of robots in various colors as well as tons of accessory packs with different armor and weapons. We will be building the Alto tomorrow as Noah already claimed the Cielnova for himself. Noah had so much fun building it he used his birthday money to order himself another one from Gundam Planet. Turns out they are PA readers and reached out to let me know they just got a couple brand new arrivals in the 30 minute mission line that they tossed in the box for us! So I’ll probably be showing those off on stream as well once that package arrives. I’d also like to mention that I made some purchases from Newtype and they are going to give away this awesome HG kit of the classic Gundam to a lucky winner during my Gunpla stream tomorrow. I’ll just be picking someone at random during the show so be sure and tune in. In my limited experience so far the specialized online retailers seem to have much better prices on kits than Amazon does and they are small family operations which is nice. I actually just built that exact same kit over the weekend and loved it! Here is mine:

Thanks to everyone offering tips and tricks on Gunpla as well as suggestions on what series I should watch next. I just wrapped up Gundam Unicorn over on Netflix and that led to me having to buy a couple more models. You absolutely don’t have to watch the shows to get into Gunpla but it doesn't hurt. Buying the ones you think look cool and then having fun building them is plenty. There is a reason this brand has lasted for over 40 years though and I’m starting to understand why they build life size versions of these things in Japan. If this hobby is an iceberg I am just exploring the tip and I'm already enamored with it. Feel free to join me on stream tomorrow if you’re wondering what it’s all about. 


-Gabe out

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